Shravasti, 20 March 2015
For the last practice on a pilgrimage that had taken us to Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar, and finally Shravasti, we gathered on a lawn behind the ruins of the house where Buddha Shakyamuni had spent many rainy seasons. We wanted to offer a Yumkha Dechen Gyalmo tsok, but first had to hire some locals to make sure the monkeys didn’t make a mess of the offerings we’d arranged so beautifully! When we came to the accumulation of the dakini tsok prayer called Turning Back the Summon of the Dakinis, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche gave us some advice about how best to direct our minds as we recited the prayer. And once again, he stressed that ordinary people like us who have no realization, must rely on the power of deity, mantra, mudra and samadhi.
We had very little time to complete the tsok accumulation before the sun set. Yet Rinpoche felt it was important to give this brief instruction on how to do the practice, to make sure that it had a real impact.
Sogyal Rinpoche has been calling me. He’s called over and over again to tell me that he wants us to direct our practice towards the removal of all obstacles to his life and work, and to pray for his mother, Mayumla, and some of his close attendants.
When a request like this is made by someone with a very pure heart who trusts the person he asks to pray for him, and when it’s you who has agreed to practise for such a man, if you don’t have the ten powers of the Buddha, it can be a bit difficult. You may agree to direct your practice, but unless you are a Buddha, it’s hard to make it work. Until you’ve actualized the dharmakaya and are therefore able to rest within the space in which everything that arises is the ‘appearance’ of the spontaneously present dynamic energy of the dharmakaya, it’s not possible truly to direct your practice. So until you’ve realized the dharmakaya, there will always be some doubt about the real power of your practice.
So what do we do? How can we pray and practice for Sogyal Rinpoche in just the way he’s asked us to? We use the power of the deity, the mantra, the mudra and the samadhi to establish the mandala of the deities and make offerings, and so on. And as this power is not deceptive, our prayers and practice will work. That’s why we practise like this.
So now we will offer a tsok, which includes an arrangement of all the material tsok offerings we’ve gathered and those created by our minds. Don’t think of yourself in your ordinary form. Visualize yourself as Yumka Dechen Gyalmo, do the self-visualization and recitation practice, and bless the offerings.
At this point, we invite all the dakas and dakinis of the twenty-four sacred places and thirty-two blessed lands who abide in the body, speech and mind chakras and ask them all to come here, to this place. We then make outer, inner and secret offerings and offerings of mudras of dance and song, and so on. Basically we make offerings, mend and fulfill the samayas, and purify through confession. By doing this our practice will have some positive effect, because there is power in both meditation and mantra recitation, which we must bring together in our practice. This is really important.
Now, about the tsok prayer we recite. The syllables ram yam kham and om ah hung purify and multiply the offerings.
Then we invoke dakas and dakinis from all the sacred lands and places of power. In particular, from the Gangchen Tso buddhafield which is at present in us and is one of the twenty-five buddhafields at the heart of ‘Vairocana Gangchen Tso’. ‘Throughout’ refers to the arrangement of this buddhafield, which is described in various Tibetan sacred texts, for example the Abhidharma-kosha. Most important are the twenty-four sacred places and thirty-two blessed lands, which are the places of power where the Secret Mantra Vajrayana originates. At each of these sacred places live entire cities of dakas and dakinis – an inconceivable number – headed by a main daka and a main dakini.
Some of the dakas and dakinis are born in the vajra family, some in the ratna family, others the padma family or the karma family. And there aren’t just one or two of them, but a huge throng beyond reckoning. So we invoke them all in their hundreds of thousands and ask them to come now, to this place.
When they arrive, we offer them vast quantities of sense offerings and stimulants. ‘Sense offerings’ are the offerings of the drinking water, cleansing water, incense, flowers, light, scented water, food and music; and the five sensory stimulants are beautiful forms, harmonious sounds, fragrant aromas, delicious tastes and ‘pleasant to touch’. We also offer the tsok feast, which includes the offering substances of wisdom and skilful means, and so on, and are utterly inconceivable, like the ‘inexhaustible treasury of space’. We offer all this.
As a result, All your sacred wishes are fulfilled, meaning sacred wishes, pledges, bonds or samayas. Here 'fulfillment' means that all breakages and failings connected with the vows we’ve made – the samayas of all three yanas and of the vidyadharas – are restored.
Now we come to our main purpose. For the supreme master who presides here, for the great torch of the ocean-like teachings of the Buddha – in this case Sogyal Rinpoche, who holds these teachings of the Buddha and is a protector and friend to every being – Dispel all dangers to his life; and, dispel all obstacles into space! Who is dispelling them? The dakas and the dakinis.
Also, dakas and dakinis don’t like it when a being like Sogyal Rinpoche remains in the human world. So they invite him into the expanse of primordial wisdom, which is like summoning him to a different buddha realm. In order to prevent that, we ask them to cancel their invitation, and this is what ‘Turn back the summons of the dakas and the dakinis!’ means.
We also ask them to Let everything be auspicious for his life to be forever secure and firm!
That is how you should direct the practice (mikpa).
We want the life of the lama, the great vajra holder, ‘the great torch of the ocean-like teachings of the Buddha’, to be long and secure. For this to happen, first the mind-streams of all beings-to-be-trained – principally ourselves, his students – must be clean. Therefore all negativity, obscurations, faults and downfalls, and all mind’s related habitual tendencies must be cleansed and eliminated. As our minds should be clean and pure, any transgression, impairment and breakage of the three sets of vows can be purified through confession. So we must genuinely confess everything, from the depths of our hearts.
Having purified our minds through confession, we must restore and fulfill the pledges that bind us to all the dakas and dakinis, by making the tsok offering. Once we’ve done that, we can make the request: “Please, do not invite this great being to any other buddha realm. Please let him remain in this world with us. We need him! Dakas and dakinis, please help us! Please make this happen. Please help him!”
If you pray like this as you accumulate the tsok, genuinely and from the bottom of your heart, your practice will be the most supreme kind of practice it’s possible to do for another person and for Rinpoche. This is important right now, tonight, but it’s also very important to remember when you do this practice in the future – which is why I’ve explained, very essentially, its meaning.
Although this is not an elaborate explanation, if you bear it in mind, your practice will become far more meaningful and efficient – meaning, you must recite the prayer while focusing your mind exclusively on the practice, without being distracted. If we can all now practise in this way, it will benefit, but if we don’t, just ‘directing our minds’ is unlikely to bring about any kind of change at all.
That’s all. Now recite the prayer.
Translated by Gyurmé Avertin
Edited by Janine Schulz